Rachel Wastell is the marketing manager of Housekeep, an online booking platform for home cleaners. We asked her to share her knowledge of offline marketing strategies.
How do you know if it’s suitable to market your product or service offline?
First and foremost, you need to understand your customer – where they are, what they do and how they would ordinarily look for your product or service.
Home cleaning has always been a market dominated by individual providers, and reliant on word of mouth. Despite the broad range of marketing activities we undertake, word of mouth continues to be one of our most successful marketing channels. This now typically includes both offline and online recommendations – from a verbal recommendation at a dinner party, to a tweet to a friend who you know is looking for a cleaner.
As we provide a high-quality service, customers are inclined to recommend us to their friends. Where the quality of a product or service is high, this will often be the case. So where you can, identify whether this can be a viable route for your marketing focus; it’s always the source of the best customers for you.
What are the best ways to market your product offline?
Startups should focus on getting a core, small set of customers who love you, and then think about more expensive brand building activities.
For a boot-strapped startup, you’ve therefore got to be crystal clear about who your customer is and find the most cost-effective way to reach them. Actually get out onto the streets – places where you think your customers might spend time. Go and have a chat with them, see what they’ve got to say about your product, maybe offer them a deal! They’ll give you more insights than any marketing textbook. Get out to networking events too; mix with other startups and talk to them about how they attract customers. Are there any joint activities you can do to target customers?
Often a great way of getting exposure is reaching out to local press with a story about how the business started, or the founder themselves. Having a founder like Avin at Housekeep, an investor-turned-entrepreneur, attracts a fair amount of press and means we can do some really fun things with press and partners – from interviews surrounding how to come up with an idea for a business, to his favourite pieces at a fashion retailer!
Startup life is all about trial and error, so be sure to capture as much data as you can during the early months of marketing. It will help you focus your future marketing strategy, and influence where you can justify spending your budget.
Can you tell us a bit about Housekeep, and why and how you decided to approach potential customers offline?
Housekeep.com is the place to find the best home cleaners out there. Each cleaner on the platform is background-checked, English-speaking and insured. We then look after the admin for our customers, such as scheduling, payments and adding extra services.
We started out with a really small set of customers who trialled the service, and then quickly started to grow through recommendations to colleagues and friends, who in turn recommended Housekeep to their colleagues and friends... By having these close relationships with our target audience, we were able to monitor how our new customers were finding out about Housekeep, and were able to determine that word of mouth was the most effective way to grow our business.
As our target audience is predominantly successful London professionals working in the City, we decided the best way to reach them directly would be on their way to or from work. Handing out leaflets at busy tube stations has proven effective and has the additional benefit of giving us instant feedback on what people like about our business. This approach has really supported our natural word of mouth referrals and means bookings are now increasing exponentially.
What would be your organisational and budget tips to someone considering marketing their product offline?
- PLAN PLAN PLAN
With online marketing activities it’s easy to find lots of data, through Google analytics, Facebook analytics, and so on, to see how successful each campaign has been. You’ll be able to capture data on cost per acquisition, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing this for offline activities too.
By setting out a specific plan before carrying out any activities, setting timeframes, targets and managing the process carefully, you’ll learn a lot more about what is and isn’t working.
You’ll need to identify your key data points first, so what matters most? ROI? CPA?
- BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET
It’s always an idea to negotiate with suppliers where you can – can you lengthen the payment terms?
Can you sort payment in terms of cost per lead or conversion? By doing this you may save large upfront costs and determine more easily exactly which marketing channels work best.
- TRACK TRACK TRACK
Make sure that you’re tracking marketing and results accurately from day one. One of the easiest ways to do this is finding out where your customers have come from – do you have specific coupons for different channels?
Have you had some funny experiences marketing offline?
When we’ve been out, getting out hands dirty, flyering at tube stations, you really do meet all sorts of people – from those who want to dance with you in the street, to those who are so impressed with what you’re doing that they’d like to join the team!
One of the funniest incidences that we’ve experienced while out flyering, was when we inadvertently became part of a flash mob! While the team was at Highbury & Islington, a group of people crowded round the entrance/exit of the station and proceeded to play loud music and throw newspapers around. We think it was some politically motivated flashmob… but we weren’t sure! It certainly created quite a buzz and we distributed a lot more leaflets during that time!
Rachel Wastell is the marketing manager for Housekeep.com, the online booking platform for home cleaners. All cleaners are English-speaking, background-checked and insured. Find out more about Housekeep and follow Rachel on Twitter.